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Cullud Wattah
Cullud Wattah
Theatre

Cullud Wattah

New York, NY
2h 30m incl. one intermission
CULLUD WATTAH is about three generations of Black women living through the current water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
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About Cullud Wattah

Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones, CULLUD WATTAH is a new play about three generations of Black women living through the current water crisis in Flint, Michigan. It’s been 936 days since Flint has had clean water. Marion, a third-generation General Motors employee, is consumed by layoffs at the engine plant. When her sister, Ainee, seeks justice and restitution for lead poisoning, her plan reveals the toxic entanglements between the city and its most powerful industry, forcing their family to confront the past-present-future cost of survival. As lead seeps into their home and their bodies, corrosive memories and secrets rise among them. Will this family ever be able to filter out the truth?

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Cullud Wattah by Erika Dickerson-Despenza is making a world premiere at The Public Theater more than a year in the making. Get Cullud Wattah tickets on TodayTix.

Cullud Wattah is a play set amid the Flint, Michigan water contamination crisis. The lead character, Marion, is a third-generation General Motors employee who finds out the company will be conducting layoffs. The insecurity of her job makes it difficult for her to fully back her sister, Ainee, in her quest for justice after getting lead poisoning from the Flint water. Marion’s industry and the city government turn out to be linked, and speaking out to demand justice from one means calling out the other, too. Besides economic hardship, however, Cullud Wattah also focuses on additional consequences of a disaster like Flint: the health problems of the residents and the strain the toxic environment puts on families.

The play was supposed to premiere as part of The Public Theater’s 2019-2020 season until the pandemic halted programming. But the delay didn’t stop Cullud Wattah Off-Broadway from gaining acclaim, even without a professional production. Cullud Wattah won Dickerson-Despenza the 2019 Princess Grace Award and the 2021 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize (an award that has also honored the likes of Annie Baker, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Lynn Nottage, and Paula Vogel). Now the award-winning show will finally be staged for the first time, with Candis C. Jones directing. Get tickets to Cullud Wattah off Broadway on TodayTix now.

What to Watch For

  • The Flint water crisis began in 2014, when the government of Flint, Michigan changed the city’s water supply from treated water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to untreated water from the Flint River. The water was never properly treated, and lead from pipes seeped into the water, which the city’s residents drank. Even though the city switched water sources back in 2015, doubts linger about the water’s cleanliness, and a major pipe replacement effort is still in progress.
  • The Public’s staging of Cullud Wattah not only marks the first professional staging of the play, but playwright Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s first professional, fully-staged production.
  • Dickerson-Despenza was inspired to write Cullud Wattah after following the news about the Flint crisis for a long time. She wrote bits of information she heard on sticky notes and put them all over her wall. After a while of not knowing what to do with them, she used the information to inform the play.
  • Besides the Flint crisis, Dickerson-Despenza has written about another American disaster: Hurricane Katrina. She has been working on a 10-play cycle about the storm and its aftermath, two of which have been produced virtually. shadow/land, the first play, debuted as an audio play through the Public, and the second play, [hieroglyph], was staged without an audience, filmed, and streamed by the San Francisco Playhouse and Lorraine Hansberry Theater.
  • Dickerson-Despenza’s work isn’t the first recent play to deal with the Flint crisis. José Casas, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, premiered his play Flint on campus in 2018. In addition, Henrik Ibsen’s 1882 play An Enemy of the People has seen a resurgence in light of the Flint crisis, as that play centers on a man who exposes the truth about his town’s tainted water supply.
Run time

2h 30m incl. one intermission

Start date

November 2nd, 2021

End date

December 5th, 2021

Genre

Theatre

Venue

The Public Theater

CULLUD WATTAH is about three generations of Black women living through the current water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

From $60
Prices you'll brag about

We're your one-stop shop for everything theatre. We work with theatre partners from around the world to bring you unbeatable prices for must-see shows.

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